July 2020

Emina Kobiljar ’06

Education changes lives. It’s a fact. 

Since the day she fled war-torn Sarajevo in 1992, when she was only five-years-old and headed for a refugee camp in southern Germany, Emina Kobiljar's experiences have taught her education and community are key to providing stability in otherwise disorienting and trying times. 

While in Germany, with no knowledge of the local language and the constant fear of being sent back to her ravaged country, it was through school that she felt a part of a larger community and gained the self-confidence and perspective she was so desperately looking for. 

In 1998, her family resettled to Houston, Texas under an U.S. initiative for Bosnian refugees and school once again became an outlet. Emina grew up in Gulfton with little means, and she had to navigate a new educational landscape on her own and take advantage of the limited resources available to her. 

Luckily, she had key mentors and organizations along the way who guided her towards special schools, scholarships, and opportunities that would put her on a transformative educational trajectory. That’s how she found out about Awty. Her brilliant academic results granted her a full scholarship that enabled her to attend the school from 2002 until 2006. 

At Awty, Emina found high quality teachers who encouraged her to think critically. For example, Ms. Miller, who helped her become a better writer by giving her invaluable advice on how to approach writing, or Mr. Marzen, who inspired her to learn more about Economics and ultimately led her to study it at Harvard and then Princeton.

“Awty felt like a second family to me, from Ms. Labonte, the Financial Aid Coordinator who always made sure everything was taken care of and I didn’t have to worry about being able to afford an Awty education, to Mr. Waugh, whose office was always open,  to the Headmaster, Mr. Watson, who even came to my graduation at Harvard!”


Today, she serves as a Senior Vice President in the Education Finance Team for BB&T Capital Markets, heading up the Houston office. Her job allows her to channel her passion for education into helping charter schools that empower mostly low-income and disadvantaged youth to fulfill their potential. 

Her piece of advice for current Awty students: “Use the platform Awty gives you to figure out what you like. Use the amazing resources the school offers you, from the IB program to all the extra-curricular activities. Talk to your teachers, get advice from them - they are infinite sources of knowledge! And don’t stress about the future, your career path will develop organically and will lead you where you want to be”.